Article by: Denn Reed B. Tuvera Jr.
The Department of Justice granted the 10 day extension of the Ligots to file their counter-affidavit against the P428-M tax evasion suite filed against them by the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the preliminary hearing at the Multi-Purpose Hall of DOJ last April 6.
Asst. State Prosecutor Stewart Allan Mariano of the Department of Justice granted the request of the Ligots through their lawyer, Atty. Rafael Zialcita, for a 10 days extension to file their counter-affidavit. Zialcita said Former Ret. Military Comptrolman Juanito Ligot have read the complaint filed against him by the BIR last March 28 after he was released from the custody of the Senate. After Ligot was released, “Then, the complaint came to our law office,” he added.
The Ligots arrived at the Department of Justice together with their lawyer at around 10:10 am for the preliminary hearing. In the Multi-Purpose Hall, they went straight in one of the cubicles. The Ligots smiled back to the media as they pass by them. They avoid answering any questions in relation to the case. Their lawyer briefed them in a cubilce concerning their case. Afterwards, Mrs. Erlinda Ligot had her blood-pressure checked.
Zialcita said “Mrs. Ligot was a bit nervous” and she complained of discomforts. Moreover, she was taken in a separate cubicle to have her blood-pressure checked. The result was 140/100 torr. At 10:30, the preliminary hearing started. The hearing was supposed to be a close-door hearing. But media men found spots to cover the hearing.
The hearing ended at around 11:00. Atty. Zialcita spoke after the hearing: “We did not have sufficient time to come up with the counter-affidavit and to interview all the necessary people involved. So, which is why we asked for an extension.”
When asked about their answer to charges, he replied: “I don’t know yet because we still have to study the documents. We have to pass thru every document”.
Meanwhile, DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima commented on the blood-pressure check-up of Mrs. Ligot.
She said in Filipino “Well, we do not know if she has really a blood-pressure problem. But I think, it should not be a reason for another resetting or to file whatever it is that they are required to file.”
“We can understand it if a person is sick. But if it is just blood-pressure or high-blood, most people are having high-bloods; it does not mean that you can need that as an excuse for not complying with the procedures, requirements or directings. There should not be any special treatment to anyone,” she explained.
The BIR filed a complaint against Ligot and his wife; fellow Former Military Major Carlos Garica and wife, Clarita; and Ligot’s brother in-law, Edgardo Yambao, for tax evasion and failure to file their income tax returns.
Furthermore, the BIR said the Ligots failed to declare their income of P459.6 million from 2001 to 2004. They also owe the government of P428 million for failure to pay their taxes.
They are also facing a separate pending case filed at the Sandigan Bayan in which their lawyer said many of the properties involved in the case, pleadings and documents were already filed at the Sandigan Bayan.
“I cannot,” Zialcito said, “our plan if the pending case at the Sandigan Bayan will be affected with this case [tax evasion]. I still have to study the documents.”
The filing of the counter-affidavit of the Ligots is expected on the next preliminary hearing set on April 18 at 10am.